Big sound from low watt amps?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Shawnee, May 25, 2015.

  1. Shawnee

    Shawnee Member

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    Hey guys,
    I am thinking about building an amp from scratch (I'm an electronics tech by trade). I have a Splawn Quickrod that kills but it's a 100 watts! I could build a nice 70's/80's rock preamp like the Splawn, Rockstah, or similar but would like to have something with lower power (10-30 watts). My concern is having an amp that sounds "small" even on a 4x12 cab. I'm trying to decide between a push/pull EL84 or 6V6 type power section or would a single ended EL34 sound bigger (I could even parallel 2 tubes)? I need that ROAR but below 1000 decibels. I have an Orange TH30 (4xEL84's) that I reworked and it sounds good but doesn't roar like the Splawn. I had a Friedman Pink Taco and didn't like it at all. Not sure if the power sections are the issue for me or not. I do like a lot of the Phaez demos and he does quite a bit of single ended stuff. I have also considered reworking a JTM45 since they are 30 watts but for a dirty amp, 30 watts is a LOT in a bedroom.

    If you have direct experience playing dirty tones through lower and higher wattage stuff through the same cab, I would love to hear from you!
     
  2. Chris Martins

    Chris Martins Member

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    I used to get amazing recorded tones from a small 1 watt Blackheart amp, the Killer Ant. Not much of a clean tone machine, but great for Ac/Dc at speaking volume.
     
  3. bkatx

    bkatx Member

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    I have a Germino Masonette (25 watt 6v6, lead style plexi) and Classic 45 (JTM 45 style) and both are very pleasing at household volumes. I use a Hot Plate to knock about 8db off and I can crank them 3/4 of the way up and they are beautifully crunchy without ripping your head off. Definitely way too loud for bedroom amps though.
     
  4. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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  5. gixxerrock

    gixxerrock Member

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    My Mesa Mark V has modes that will couple the different preamp sections to different power sections. One option is 10W class A with 6L6. I can also use the built in Variac to further reduce the power. IMO, all the different preamps sound great at 10W. That's how I use it for home practice, and switch to higher power modes for playing with bands.
     
  6. illini

    illini Member

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    I ran one of the Reason Bambino Grande amps for awhile. They are EL 84 push/pull and didn't sound like a small boxy combo. Through my 412 it sounded as good as anything else I use.
     
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  7. briluster

    briluster Member

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    I second the Killer Ant for certain applications. Out of the box it has pretty much zero clean headroom; even at the lowest settings it's got at least a little grit, to include when using my SSS Strat with low output pups. However, the dirty crunch is heavenly tone. Also, it doesn't get too loud, but isn't bad for low volume crunch in a bedroom.
     
  8. bender

    bender Member

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    My Marshall 2061X (20W) is WAY TOO LOUD for any house/bedroom stuff, but it's quieter than my 40W and 100W heads, and sounds great through any cab I have.

    My Klemt Echolette M-40, though, sounds great at lower volumes--it has a channel volume and master, so is suitable for more settings than the other heads.
    It's getting harder to find as people are snapping them up--but I think I paid about $400 all up including shipping and some minor tech work to get a deceased estate one going. These are EL84 amps, iirc, and there was a suggestion above for checking out amps that are using EL84s.

    Also tried a VOX 4 watter I think--sounded pretty good! Can't remember the model.
     
  9. Hulakatt

    Hulakatt Supporting Member

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    SE amps are a lot of fun and yes, you can get big sounds out of them. I've built a few tweed champs and my current one sounds much bigger than it looks. 15 watt OT and a few upgraded components in the power section so it can take any octal output tube like, well, a champ! When I first built it I was unimpressed until I popped a Jupiter 8" in it, now it sounds much, much bigger.

    I'm accumulating parts at the moment to build a Two Stroke head. Gonna build it in a steel caged chassis like those vintage RCA PA's that some folks are converting to guitar amp heads. Might have a 1x8, 1x10 closed back cab to go with it.

    I've always wanted to build something based off of the old Hawaiian amps from the 50's, maybe after the Two Stroke...
     
  10. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    There are lots of Fenders, vox, and others in the under 30 class that you could try to see what works for you.
    Just plug into your fave cab with them.
     
  11. mesa/kramer

    mesa/kramer Member

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    Soldano HR25 w/ the Big Iron inside delivers a bigger sound than most 25w amps
     
  12. Richard Guy

    Richard Guy Member

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    Give the sound clips a listen and check out the builder comments
     
  13. jlb32

    jlb32 Member

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    That's my opinon also. The HR25 has big iron and big bottle power tubes which delivers the tone of a 50 watt amp in a 25 watt forum. Sounds great at any volume.
     
  14. Custom50

    Custom50 Member

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    Orange Rocker 30 is another candidate.
     
  15. elicxirmixer

    elicxirmixer Member

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    I feel like this is the key quote in this thread so far. I have a Vox AC4TVmini. It's a great simple circuit that sounds boxy and unimpressive at the 1 watt setting. When I plug it into a 2x12, it sounds awesome.

    Get a nice circuit/attenuated situation that will give you around 1 watt or less, and then put it through a big cab.
     
  16. DaveKS

    DaveKS Member

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    This^^^

    Cab size and speaker choice is everything. Build a slightly oversized 1x10 open back, put a Tone Tubby 40/40 hemp in it and you won't have anything boxy or small sounding. Make a tight fitting 1x10, put a greenback in it, yea you'll have a boxy sounding cab/speaker.
     
  17. snow and steel

    snow and steel Supporting Member

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    My mesa mini rectifier and rectoverb 25 [both small 25 watt amps] are LOUD [playing them live I never get it over 1/2 way]. Run them through a Avatar "vintage" 1X12 with vintage 30's. They sound massive - speaker cab and the speaker itself make a HUGE part of the sound.
     
  18. rockinrobby

    rockinrobby Senior member Professional musician ... Gold Supporting Member

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    I have a 63 AC10 twin 2x10 combo it's about 12w with an EF86 channel that's just perfect for the crunch / clean all in one combo.. So far it my favorite amp for the house. I also have a Marshall 6120x that little thing is insane loud!! Giging only with that one..
     
  19. Figaro

    Figaro Supporting Member

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    A 5 watt amp does sound a lot bigger through a 2x12 or 4x12 cabinet. But it's still not the same sound that 20-50 watt amps have at the same volume. Especially when played clean. There's just something about the sound of big iron (transformers).
     
  20. michael.e

    michael.e Supporting Member

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    Idda know... Having had a ton of low/med/high wattage amps, high wattage with a good master trumps all. Everything I need is there and gets better when the master travels clockwise. If I was going to suggest one low wattage amp that has a big amp footprint, it would be the Savage Rohr 15.
     

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